The battle for governance is heating up

EDITOR, The Tribune. THE battle for governance for the next five-year period is truly heating up as the parties go through the process of naming and publishing their list of candidates. Each party is now shifting focus in an attempt to convince the Bahamian electorate that it is the better prepared, experienced and committed, to move the country forward in this point in time, in this 21st century. In total, we can anticipate approximately 114 candidates exclusive of those who may run as independents, which make up this figure to about 119. By any stretch of the imagination, that is a large number of persons who would be seeking to fill 38 seats. What is interesting to note is the fact that every attempt has been made to choose men and women who are representative of a reasonable cross-section of society. From all appearances, this would seem to be a good thing, but is it really? This, however, is a very important factor, because in the mix, even though it is not very obvious now you have the good, the bad and the ugly. In spite of those drawbacks, the reality is that this is the socio-cultural gene-pool from which the Bahamian people must elect persons to represent them. Many of you, my Bahamian brothers and sisters, would agree with me that the matter of representation is a serious one. Therefore, when a man or woman requests your permission (by way of your vote) to represent you, he or she should possess certain basic characteristics. Yes I am talking about persons with character, inclusive of but not limited to the following: 1) Stand for godly principles; 2) Should be blameless, the husband of one wife and vice versa; 3) He or she should be temperate, sober-minded of good behaviour, hospitable and able to teach; 4) Not given to wine or other strong drink; 5) Should not be violent, not greedy for money; 6) Should be gentle; 7) Not quarrelsome, not covetous; 8) Should rule his/her house well; 9) Should have his/her children in submission; As Bahamians, we rarely pay any attention to the character of those so-called representatives. When I looked up the word representative, Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary gives the following definitions: * One that represents a constituency as a member of a legislative body; * Standing or acting for another; * One that represents another or others; * One that represents another as agent, deputy, substitute or delegate, usually vested with the authority of the principal. We can see from these definitions that these individuals are sent to Parliament to speak and act on our behalf. For someone to act on our behalf we should know what they stand for, so that they would be able to articulate the needs of the individual as well as the community of which he/she is a part. Yes, indeed, it is sobering to think that the season is here wherein strange men and women will be canvassing throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth trying to persuade us to vote for a party, with little emphasis placed on the individual for whom you would be marking your X. Many of the individuals would have been selected by the party to run in what may be termed a "foreign" or unfamiliar constituency. Each sober voter should be asking the following questions: How were these candidates chosen to represent my interest? Who in the local district took part in the selection process? Are these candidates familiar with our local concerns? Do they have a vested interest in the area? What do they really care about my condition and that of my community? Can the one chosen to represent me speak from personal experience of what my needs are? It would appear that the process of selecting individuals by the political parties leaves much to be desired. The perceived method(s) employed reminds one of the games run in many areas was done in a similar fashion to that of musical chairs or the game called connect four. It would appear that the candidates were selected based on issues such as: * Family background; * Intimidation and social pressure or stigma; * The candidate is chosen based on the perceived view that he or she can secure a win not for the people but for the party at large; While the latter position is important, the priority seems to be mixed up. The party seems to take priority over the voters. The current process breeds disrespect for the electorate and evidence can be seen in the various communities where for decades the deplorable living conditions for many indigent Bahamians remain unchanged. Another area of disrespect is shown when constituents try to have an audience with his/her representative. The seated politician acts as though his loyal constituent who gave him/her the job is now a bother and he/she has no time to waste with their concerns. The amazing thing that is really mind boggling is that many of these same Bahamians have lived for five years in unsanitary conditions, poor housing, large mounds of refuse, derelict vehicles, high rodent infestations and other adverse community conditions. Yet when the politicians come around they act as though the Lord has made an appearance and they jockey around to try and shake hands etcetera, and at times never putting serious questions and matters before the so-called representative. Bahamians this time around call for some background information on your would-be representative. One evening of introduction of a candidate is not enough. You deserve more. Remember you are the boss, they are seeking a job now and the trump card is in your hand, how you play that card is entirely up to you. Whoever you vote for and whatever the outcome, remember we would all have to live with the consequences for the next five years, after the election is all finished and done with. The old saying is, "don't mind the noise in the market, but pay attention to the price of the fish." This is good advice because there is a cost for the fish purchased outright and that which may be credited and have to be paid for later. The noise therefore, my beloved Bahamians, can be a very distracting and deceptive factor. MICHAEL E TURNER Nassau, January 19, 2012.


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